The Foam Roller Calf Exercise is a great self-massage exercise that will give your calf muscles a deep and effective sports massage, thus improving the health and quality of your muscle tissue and helping you to perform better. It will also alleviate soreness and make your muscles feel better.
The foam roller overloads the muscle tissues through compression, causing your nerves to relax, signalling muscle spasms to shut off, pumping blood and and getting your lymphatic system flowing, to help muscle recovery and regeneration. You’ll work out those knots (muscle adhesions) in your muscles caused either by inactivity, by the repetitive strain of the golf swing, or by walking a tough golf course. This will enable you to stretch the muscles back out to their original length, making them more pliable and functional.
The Foam Roller Calf Exercise can be performed both before and after playing golf, practising on the range, or other physical activity. It’s also great after sitting in the same position for a while, and can be enjoyed anywhere and anytime you feel tight and in need of a massage, such as while watching television or before bedtime.
This exercise requires a foam roller, also referred to as a foam roll.
For more information on the foam roller and its benefits, see An Introduction to the Foam Roller – The Golfer’s Best Friend.
- Sit on the ground with your legs straight, your left leg crossed over your right, and a foam roller under your right calf.
- Lift your buttocks off the ground, supporting your weight with only your hands and the foam roller. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged.
- Roll along the length of your calf, from your Achilles tendon to behind your knee.
- Turn your toes in and out to work the inside and outside of your calf.
- Repeat with the roller under your other leg.
To begin with, you may find this exercise easier if you uncross your legs and have both calves on the foam roller at once, as shown at the start of the video in Figure 1, thus placing less weight on each calf.
Work the foam roller back and forth, gliding your calf over the foam roller, for 30 to 60 seconds on each leg. As you work you’ll discover muscle spasms and tender pressure points, hold on each pressure point for an additional 30 seconds until the muscle releases from spasm.
The first time you perform this exercise, it might be a little painful, just like a professional sports massage would be, but that’s just a sign that you stand to benefit enormously from it. After the first few sessions, it will start to become considerably easier and more comfortable. The better it feels, and the less it hurts, the better the quality of your muscle tissue.
Only go as deep as you can tolerate, and slowly build up the amount of time you spend on this exercise.
How Will It Benefit Your Golf Swing?
Many swing faults and lower back injuries occur as a direct result of poor flexibility within the chain of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that connect the bottom of the foot to your calf; from your calf to your hamstrings; and from your hamstrings into your pelvis and lower back. Many players have a problem covering the ball with the chest through impact because of a flexibility issue within these tissues.
A key difference between top professional golfers and the average amateur is the coordination and movement of the legs throughout the golf swing. When the legs are used correctly, the golfer can drive into the ground with the target-side leg during the downswing, generating a great deal of power from the legs, and still have the stability and balance to transfer that power through the body and into the ball at impact, while remaining in perfect balance into the follow-through.
The calf muscles play a crucially important role in providing this power, stability and balance during the golf swing. Poor leg movement leads to decreased power and less accuracy due to the inefficient transfer of energy along the posterior chain (calves, hamstrings, glutes, and erector spinae) into the golf ball, and poor direction control of the ball.
This becomes especially important, and taxing on the calf muscles, on side-hill lies.
The Foam Roller Calf Exercise is a great exercise to stretch your calves and improve the quality and function of the muscle tissues. This exercise will increase your golf performance and decrease the potential for lower back and hip injuries.
This exercise mainly involves your gastrocnemius, tibialis posterior, fibularis longus, and fibularis brevis.
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